May 7 : Cul-de-Sac Caching in Hurst…

… in which Mr Hg137 is befriended by Shetland ponies as well as a hen party… (good job Mrs Hg137 was with him!)

A fine, old oak tree

A fine, old oak tree

Hurst is a small Berkshire village between Wokingham and Twyford. The sort of village you drive through, take a passing look at the village pond, avoid the parked cars by the village shop and suddenly its gone! We’ve driven through it numerous times (well Mr Hg137 has) and never noticed the footpath signs either side of the road.

Today was the day to explore them! It was a gloriously hot day (probably THE DAY of Summer of 2016) and we chose caches off those footpaths. Our route wasn’t circular, and had three cul-de-sacs to walk both there and back. This had the one advantage we could attempt any DNF’s on our return trip !

Our first cache was the most innovative we have seen in a long while.

Can you hear the cache ?

Can you hear the cache ?

Entitled “Deaf as a Post and Thick as a Plank” it was a multi-cache. The first part involved finding a ‘sound device’ affixed to a post. We eventually found it, but it took several attempts to make it work! Eventually we generated an audible sound, and we had seconds to trace the object it was hidden in (hint.. read the cache title). Our job was not over then, as contained therein were various letters which needed unscrambling. Fortunately we noticed a pattern early on, and unscrambled the message quite quickly. Now we had to find the object alluded to in the message ! Phew! After all that hard work, the final container was just a money-bag with a log inside. Although the container was a disappointing one, the thrill and excitement of the multi parts made this cache very memorable.

Our first cul-de-sac was complete, so we returned to the geo-car and headed off in the opposite direction. Our next cache was a disaster! We failed to find it! We even found ourselves the wrong of a ditch and fence boundary which would have put us in a better Ground Zero! Still let’s park that for the journey back shall we ?

Onward to our first ‘normal’ find of the day. A simple container in the roots of a tree. But, and this is a big but, we had to clamber through barbed wire to reach it! Aargh! Fortunately while we finding this cache we noticed the footpath we should have taken to attempt our previous DNF.

Our third find of the day was the easiest – it was fully exposed at a footpath junction in the bole of a tree! We hid it better and then decided which of our remaining two cul-de-sacs we would attempt first.

We headed to a large copse and entered it though a small cacher’s path. Now, where was the cache! Our GPS went wild ! The tree cover played havoc with our signal. One minute we were 4 feet away, then 40 , then 20 then 25..and all without moving from a single spot. Perhaps the hot weather was causing the GPS to mis-behave. Anyway we couldn’t find it! Previous cachers had mentioned ‘magnetic’ and ‘found on the floor’ or ‘shoulder high’ … all too confusing.

We left the copse and re-joined the main path. We’d walked a few yards and we were aware of a large party behind us. Twenty young ladies!

Their leader asked us to confirm their whereabouts and we let them pass. (The path was just a wee bit muddy, and we could learn from their slipping and sliding!) In fact many of them didn’t have walking boots, some wore very light (ballet?) shoes. We asked the ‘Tail End Charley’ which group they were from. We were expecting answer like “The Berkshire Belles Walking Group’.. but no… it was a hen party and the ‘Tail End Charley’ was the bride-to-be. It was good to see so many young ladies enjoying the British countryside, rather than a raucous weekend in a foreign land!

Shetland Ponies and a Hen Party

Shetland Ponies and a Hen Party

Mr Hg137 has some new friends

Mr Hg137 has some new friends

We followed them and suddenly we were in a field with beautiful white Shetland Ponies. At last our target was in sight – a huge oak tree. This must have been over 300 years old and a really fine specimen and an easy find too! Back we went through the pony-field, to the small copse, to attempt the ‘magnetic tree’ cache again. This time, we took a good bearing of where we wanted to be before we entered the copse… and found the cache almost immediately. It was magnetic too!

A Magnetic Tree Cache

A Magnetic Tree Cache

And so we returned to one final cul-de-sac. Two caches to find, but the first one we failed to find! Our third DNF of the day… still there’s always the return journey to have another go! Our last cache was a simple cache by a stile, so what remained was the walk back to the car via two previous DNFs. Could we find them ? No ! Searching high and low we found neither!

We don’t like to finish on 2 DNF’s so we made a quick diversion to one of Hurst’s pubs – “The Elephant and Castle”. Sadly it was lunchtime and the pub garden was full, and every customer was staring at where we believed GZ to be. We had a quick look, but with so many muggle-eyes, we had to pass. So we walked to another cache… we really must find one more cache to finish on a high! Overlooked by gardens, we were a little concerned about access again, but we found it quickly! Phew!

A rather hot, bitty morning – a few too many DNFs but some interesting moments.. its not every day you HEAR a cache, find a magnetic in a tree, see a Hen Party and Shetland Ponies!

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